FILM OF THE YEAR
In 1967, homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the UK. Since that date, cinema has been creating films that give Queer voices the opportunity to be heard on screen. I have selected one film per year since then; not all of them are positive, but each made its mark on the film industry and cinema-going public in some way. So take a look at the LGBT Films Of The Year, from 1967 until the present day!
1967 - Portrait Of Jason
African-American male prostitute and cabaret performer Jason Holliday recounts his life-story to camera in this documentary piece released in the same year that homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK but remained illegal in the US. The narrative he gives about sexuality and race is a curious and affecting first-hand account of life in the States in the late 60s.
1968 - The Killing Of Sister George
Beryl Reid stars in this classic, albeit uncomfortable, drama about a lesbian soap actress whose character is axed from the show due to her increasingly erratic behaviour. Set against the volatile backdrop of her relationship with a much younger woman, this British movie is hugely melodramatic and its campery makes for good entertainment, though its casting Of Sister George as almost monstrous complies entirely with the typical ‘LGBT as the dangerous other’ trend within cinema at the time.
1969 - Midnight Cowboy
In the year of the Stonewall Riots, the winner of the Best Picture Oscar was this, the story of a Texan hustler in New York. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in a pair of astonishing performances, the film shows the dark side of the city, depicting crime, disease and prostitution as the two try to find their way in a city designed for the rich. While not the progressive depiction of homosexuality (Voight shows palpable distaste at engaging with male clients), this is a brilliant character study and was the gayest film to win the top Oscar until 2017.
1970 - The Boys In The Band
Though definitely outdated in its stereotypes, The Boys In The Band is a landmark film that put a group of gay men onto the big screen for the very first time. Taking place over the course of an evening, the story focuses around a dinner party where a straight man is unwittingly invited to a Birthday party with several gay men. With a rentboy gifted as a present, bitchy queens and gay men revelling in self-loathing, this early piece of Queer cinema is a fascinating time capsule and definitely worth revisiting from a postmodern perspective.
1971 - Death In Venice
Dirk Bogarde stars in this melancholy piece about a man who refuses to leave Venice despite a cholera epidemic because he’s following the young man that he has become enamoured with. A subtly nuanced story of obsession and desire, this is pretty creepy from a 2019 perspective, particularly because of how young the boy he is following actually is, but it’s a beautifully made movie that shows off the beauty Venice at the start of the twentieth century.
1972 - Pink Flamingos
There's no denying that Pink Flamingos is a disgusting film. Its purpose was to shock and appal and to play on the grim fascination of revulsion-junkies to gain as wide an audience as possible. And it completely succeeded. As the resplendently vile Divine competes with a sleazy couple for the title of "The Filthiest Person Alive", the film's nauseating climax has gone down in film legend. But the significance of the Divine/Waters long-term collaboration cannot be understated in terms of Queer Cinema. In equal measure fascinated and appalled by their work, audiences came from far and wide to see bawdy celebrations of Queer Culture. And despite its lurid nature in Pink Flamingos, this was a massive step.
1973 - A Bigger Splash
Although officially a documentary, large sections of David Hockney's film about the creation of his masterpiece A Bigger Splash were staged and recreated for this film. Like 1970s high brow TOWIE, this documentary depicts Britain's most famous artist of the twentieth century at the very height of his fame and renown. However, fascinating though this is, it strays very quickly into self-indulgence, especially with its staged and explicit sex scenes, which were clearly playing for shock value.
1974 - Conversation Piece
Burt Lancaster stars in this Italian film about an American ex-pat living in Rome who is talked into renting some of his rooms to a family with questionable morals. As he deals with them making structural alterations without permission, parties late into the night and the constant comings and goings of strangers, he must also deal with his own repressed homosexuality as he falls in love with one of the men now staying in his home. Though interesting for its depiction of a very modern family, it still falls into the rut of showing homosexuality as something to be feared, both for society and the gay person. But with a snappy script and a handful of great performances, this has stood up to the test of time.
1975 - The Naked Civil Servant
In his BAFTA-winning tour-de-force, John Hurt stars as the flamboyant icon Quentin Crisp in this adaptation of his seminal autobiography. Uncompromising in his determination to express himself, the film shows Crisp's refusal to conform, even against the threat of prison. Funny and thoroughly uplifting, Hurt's performance is almost as iconic as the person he's playing.
1976 - Sebastiane
In probably Derek Jarman's weakest film, he explores the homoerotic image of Saint Sebastian, the saint martyred by bow and arrow. Depicted as gay, the saint is persecuted by the Roman emperor, who is trying to crush Christianity entirely. Performed entirely in Latin, the film is renowned for its depiction of homosexuality amongst the soldiers, but notorious for its slow pace, lack of any real plot and inaccessibility for a non-gay audience.
1977 - A Special Day
In this English-language Italian Drama, Sofia Loren stars as a dissatisfied house wife on the day of Hitler’s state visit to meet Mussolini in 1938. Staying at home while her family attend the rally, she engages in an emotionally tumultuous afternoon when she meets her neighbour, played by Marcello Mastroianni, a journalist recently dismissed from his job for being gay. With neither relishing the idea of the fascist union, both explore their discontent while everyone else is celebrating. Though an interesting concept, this is a laboured drama that never succeeds in picking up enough pace to make it interesting.
1978 - La Cage Aux Folles
An early LGBT film with widespread appeal, La Cage follows a gay couple who try to conceal their sexuality and ownership of a drag club from their son. A French farce that makes no attempt to conceal its celebration of campery, the film was an outstanding succces, leading to the Broadway musical and its eventual Hollywood remake, The Birdcage. With its older protagonists delightfully uncensored, La Cageportrays a strong and clearly loving relationship between two men within the context of prima donnas and showmanship. After its release, this film was the highest grossing foreign-language film of all time.
1979 - Caligula
In this notorious biopic about the life of the notorious Roman emperor Caligula, Malcolm McDowell stars with a script written by Gore Vidal. A veritable orgy of colour, decadence and sex, this over-long mess of a film became world-renowned for its flagrant insistence on boundary-pushing, making a bee-line for shock tactics over any kind of nuance. It succeeds in depicting Caligula as a despicable and vicious murderer, but also manages to wholly alienate its entire audience too.
1980 - Cruising
Controversial though this was, the "most homophobic movie ever made" now reads as a fascinating curiosity, both for the way it is indeed laced with prejudice, but also for its determination to depict as much about New York's S&M scene as it could. Its ending treads on some very dodgy narrative territory, but as a slice of history, it's well worth your time. As long as you can suspend the offended Guardian-reader in you for a couple of hours.
1981 - Querelle
In German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final movie, Brad Davis stars as the titular Querelle, a Belgian sailor who is also a thief, drug smuggler and murderer. Involved in the criminal underworld, he also gets embroiled in a love triangle between a brothel owner and her husband, while also allowing the police captain - and various other men - to have sex with him. Drenched with homoeroticism and existing in exaggerated fantasy version of a French sea-port, this iconic dreamlike movie is an adaptation of Jean Genet’s novel ‘Querelle de Brest’. Though a now seminal piece of Queer Cinema, the film is a retro piece that successfully appears like classic Hollywood both visually and in its, at times, glacial pace.
1982 - Personal Best
Mariel Hemingway stars as a top US athlete who finds herself at the centre of a love triangle between her female role model and her male coach. A sumptuous sports drama that delves deep into the eroticism of those whose physical competitive prowess is their career, the film is drenched in massively gorgeous classical music and is a masterclass in how to underscore a movie to perfection. Also a delightful time capsule of the early 80s, this was probably the first truly great lesbian movie ever made.
1983 - The Hunger
David Bowie stars alongside Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in this fantasy thriller about a woman who finds herself in a love triangle with a vampire couple. Finding himself ageing for the very first time due to his newly developed insomnia, a vampire seeks out a sleep therapist to try and halt his rapid decline. But with his partner having witnessed this before, she is already on the lookout for a new companion. Complete with Vaselined lenses and saxophone-accompanied sex scenes, this is all kinds of 80s trashy, but is made infinitely better for the inspur d casting of Bowie.
1984 - Another Country
Rupert Everett stars in this British drama about the early life of Guy Burgess, who would later become one of the Cambridge Spies. Set at a prestigious boys school between the wars, the film shows Burgess’ increasing discontent with both the British class system and their treatment of gay people. An interesting depiction of a period in British history that assumed a don’t ask, don’t tell mantra, the film is anchored by the role Everett was born to play and established him as a powerful figure in LGBT cinema.
1985 - My Beautiful Laundrette
Set in Thatcherite Britain in the 80s, My Beautiful Laundrette follows a young Asian man who takes over his uncle's laundrette and tries to turn it into a money-making venture. Employing the help of an old school-friend, who has since become a neo-Nazi, it forces his father to come to terms with relying on people he hates, while a burgeoning sexual relationship begins to develop between the two. With the characters' sexualities dealt with as the least contentious issue in the pile, this refreshingly indifferent take on homosexuality was a landmark moment in Queer cinema, where who someone loves is irrelevant in the face of cultural injustice.
1986 - Caravaggio
Derek Jarman's punk biopic of baroque painter Michelangelo Caravaggio is a period drama laced with sexuality. Examining the subjects of his risqué paintings, whose sexualised religious subjects toed the line of blasphemy, this movie looks at how someone who creates beauty has to consume it too.
1987 - Law Of Desire
Pedro Almadóvar's first great film, slipping out just before he became Spain's biggest director. A story about obsession, a supposedly "straight" man (played by a very youthful Antonio Banderas) meets a movie star, sleeps with him and then won't leave him alone, becoming a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. With all the director's classic hallmarks, this is a fast-paced thriller with wonderfully vibrant characters.
1988 - Torch Song Trilogy
In the film adaptation of Harvey Fierstein’s play, the writer stars as a female impersonator in 70s New York whose life is torn apart after the death of his lover and he’s forced to reconnect with his overbearing mother, Anne Bancroft. An enduringly moving and witty depiction of LGBT people, which was unusual at the height of the AIDS Crisis, this is remembered as a benchmark for Queer Cinema.
1989 - Longtime Companion
The first depiction of the AIDS crisis in a mainstream movie, this is Philadelphia but without its "safe" straight angle. Depicting the emergence of the disease and its subsequent devastation of the gay community, it follows a number of gay man in the 1980s. Earning Davison an Oscar-nomination, this is the first time Hollywood put a human face on the disease, which is arguably better than its more famous successor, four years later.
1990 - Paris Is Burning
The impact this remarkable documentary has made cannot be understated. Charting New York's drag scene in the 1980s, the film focuses on the malleability of Queer Culture, where everyone expresses who they want to be, but obviously being fierce at the same time. Observing the balls, chronicling the voguing and meeting with people from the city's leading drag families, it peels back the layers of these warm but damaged people, who have created the world where they can feel accepted. A funny film, laden with sass, Paris Is Burning spread the New York drag model around the world and shaped a whole generation of queens. And now it lives as a remarkable document of a bygone age.
1991 - My Own Private Idaho
Gus Van Sant makes two types of films; the accessible and the arty. My Own Private Idaho is definitely the latter, but this juxtaposition of Shakespearean themes, plot and dialogue (lifted unpretentiously from Henry IV Part I, Part 2 and Henry V) and the gay hustling scene of the early 90s somehow just works. This dreamlike and sad tale of two boys hunting for somewhere they can call their home is a tragic and haunting indie with pretentions of epic grandeur. Though not easily accessible, its concept is so high that its poetic ramblings are soothing and shocking in equal part. And moments of brilliance flash from Phoenix, showing the actor that maybe he could have become.
1992 - Orlando
A gender-bending time travelling disbelief-suspended masterpiece, stars Swinton as the young nobleman Orlando. Commanded by Queen Elizabeth I (played with glorious campery by Quentin Crisp) to stay forever young, he does exactly that. Over the resulting centuries, he experiences British history from multiple angles, lives, relationships, even changing gender midway through. Running right until the 1990s, the character grows wiser but never loses the wide-eyed fervour of the young bewitched man. Swinton is resplendent in this Queer punk film that defies societal conventions and tips its hat to Derek Jarman at every opportunity.
1993 - Blue
Before his death from AIDS, seminal director Derek Jarman lost his sight, seeing only the colour blue. Instead of letting this stop him making films, he created his magnum opus; an aural dream-filled testimony of his illness, narrated by himself and his favourite collaborators over a completely blue screen. After a while the colour becomes all-consuming, as you listen to the voices that weave between dream and reality, exploring Jarman's psyche in the months before his death.
1994 - The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert
Despite its appallingly tacky incarnation on the stage, this bitchy and fabulous road movie remains one of the finest (and most original) of its genre. Travelling across the Australian outback to perform cabaret at Alice Springs, two drag queens and a transsexual inhabit a pink second-hand bus that takes them across the literal wilderness, as well as taking them on a journey through the wildernesses of their own lives. Despite their brazen flamboyance, none of them have come to terms with who they really are and while tempers, egos and wigs fray, so each one comes closer to discovering their true selves. This is a story about everyone's self-acceptance, but it's dragged up in heels and corsets and some of the boldest drag you will ever see on film. Stamp is the stand-out, but they are all on point. Particularly their lip-syncs to an amazing soundtrack.
1995 - The Celluloid Closet
At a time when the stories of Queer people were finally reaching a mainstream audience, this documentary by film historian Vito Russo looked back on the way LGBT people were depicted on screen pre-Stonewall and when the Hayes Code was in full swing. A fascinating retrospective snapshot of archive compilation, this will make you look at the Golden Age Of Hollywood in a whole new light.
1996 - Bound
In the feature debut of The Wachowskis, Bound is a neo-noir crime thriller packed with sex and violence. Following a girl who tries to escape her mafioso boyfriend, she begins a relationship with a female ex-con and together they hatch a plan to steal $2 million from the mafia. Though some people critiqued the plot's superficiality, the film's realistic depiction of a lesbian relationship on screen was a significant landmark, especially after the heteronormative sexualisation of lesbians Basic Instinct, a similar neo-noir film, just a few years before.
1997 - Bent
Based on the play by Martin Sherman, Bent is the story of a young gay man sent to the Dachau concentration camp under the Nazi regime. With Berlin a liberal and sexually diverse bohemia before the rise of the Nazis, their rapid turnaround toward complete intolerance led gay people to be treated with as much disdain as the Jews. In this heartbreaking story, in which the characters are as ostracised by the people inside the camps as the people who arrested them, the film explores how love could exist even within as hostile a place as this. Moving, horrifying and completely captivating, this is a love story in the worst place in the world.
1998 - Edge Of Seventeen
Although now ten-a-penny, gay coming of age movies owe a lot to movies like this, which explored sexual awakening without sensationalism at a time when it was still relatively taboo. A compelling story about first love, this follows Eric as he takes his first tentative footsteps into his gay identity before exploding from his small town in Ohio onto the gay scene in New York. An archetypal LGBT youth film, this is worth viewing both as a historical document (as it is a 90s view of the 80s) and for its everyman characters.
1999 - All About My Mother
All About My Mother is a fabulous film. A young man wants to uncover the identity of his father, but his mother is intent on keeping this secret. With Spain portrayed in colourful vibrancy, the film explores the relationship between a mother and son, with inter-textual references to every film about strong women you can think of and Roth is resplendent in the central role. Add to that a fabulous transsexual and a truly endearing nun with HIV, played by Penelope Cruz, and this is a film that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Just like any Almodovar film, this is a celebration of how colourful life can be, but this is his very best film of all.
2000 - Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Hedwig saw the arrival of one the Gay Community's strongest voices, and by God did he arrive in force. Writing, directing and starring in this film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical, John Cameron Mitchell created a rock masterpiece in the shape of a transsexual "internationally ignored song-stylist" from Communist East Berlin. Now revived on Broadway in a hugely successful stage show, Hedwigexplores one woman's journey through sexualities and gender identities, as she wrestles to come to terms with who she really is. Set against a punk interpretation of Plato's Symposium, this indie masterpiece is equal parts a trumpet for progressive liberalism and a nostalgic ode to the era of glam rock. I could watch this film again and again. And I have. I once watched it three times in a day.
2001 - Mulholland Drive
In David Lynch's trippy masterpiece, Naomi Watts stars opposite Laura Herring, who survives a car crash on the titular LA street. Left with amnesia, she teams up with Watts' doe-eyed Hollywood starlet in a journey across the city, where lines between dreams and reality are crossed, blurred and called wholly into question. Chasing a dangerous director, a mysterious blue box and a club named Silencio, whilst exploring their feelings for each other, this richly complex visual miasma of styles and genres has been named by some critics as the greatest movie of the century so far. Don't expect to understand it, but do expect to be greatly rewarded for your time.
2002 - The Hours
In an experimental film about the life and work of Virginia Woolf, The Hours contrasts three storylines: the life of Woolf, a parody of Mrs Dalloway set in 1950s suburbia and a woman reading the book in the present day. While Kidman and Moore are mesmerising in their storylines, Streep's projects the story against the lives of a lesbian couple who are struggling with the deterioration of their friend with AIDS. A fascinating and compelling story, the film won Oscar nominations aplenty (including winning Kidman the Best Actress award), whilst playing with a truly original narrative structure.
2003 - Party Monster
In the true story of the New York club kids, Macaulay Culkin stars as the iconic Michael Alig, a party promoter whose riotous drug-fuelled life propelled him to infamy. Told through the eyes of James St. James, played by Seth Green, this is a technicolor vibrant homage to an artistic party movement whose antics are now legendary, especially with Alig's cataclysmic fall from grace. Culkin and Green are both fantastic and the film brought New York club style to a worldwide audience.
2004 - My Summer Of Love
In Emily Blunt's impressive debut, this coming of age story of obsession and deception is an angst-ridden boiling pot of lust and rich subtext. When two teenage girls meet at the start of a long hot summer, the next six weeks are spent amusing one another, before their relationship develops into something deeper and darker. As we learn to trust Blunt less and less, her girlfriend falls further and further in love with her, piling tension into this sun-drenched and atmospheric film. Smouldering, patient and paced, this superb movie is still probably Blunt's best. And yes, that includes The Devil Wears Prada.
2005 - Brokeback Mountain
It is still the greatest injustice in the history of the Oscars that Brokeback Mountainmissed out on the Best Picture prize to the now dated Crash. A heart-wrenching story of forbidden love, this masterpiece of epic cinema places two insignificant cowboys against the backdrop of harsh social oppression, set in the sweeping landscapes of Wyoming. Both married and starting their own families, Ennis and Jack fall in love on their trips to the mountain together. But as time passes and they can't bear to be apart, the unfeasibility of their creating a life together becomes impossible for either to bear. Peppered with astonishing performances from all of its leads, Brokeback Mountain isn't just one of the finest LGBT films ever made, it's one of the greatest films of any kind. Period. Its calamitously heartbreaking story is one that will live on as one the greatest stories of star-crossed lovers in the history of modern cinema.
2006 - Shortbus
The detractors of Shortbus say it contains too much sex... but in a film solely ABOUT sex, could it really exist without it? Exploring the lives of several interconnected characters, the film focuses on a sex-therapist who has never had an orgasm. On a quest to discover her sexual identity, she comes across a host of Queer characters, all of whom are seeking sexual fulfilment in different ways, coming together at the Shortbus nightclub in New York, run by the scintillating Justin Bond. With its actors engaging in real sex on screen, the film explores the quirks and excitement of sexuality without venturing into titillation or the pornographic. In celebrating sexuality itself, it normalises sex to the point of it appearing as explicit as having a cup of tea. As a result, it's a remarkable piece of film-making.
2007 - XXY
In this Argentinian drama, an intersex teenager has been brought up a girl, but as she teaches sexual maturity begins to explores both gender identity and sexuality. Falling in love with her male best friend, both resists labelling themselves or their relationship, which their parents cannot understand. A fascinating depiction of young people who do not accept societal binaries, this is a must-watch for its complex and nuanced depiction of intersexuality.
2008 - Milk
The story of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk is Van Sant's tour-de-force. Charting the rise of the first openly gay politician to take office in the US, this remarkable story of uncompromising personal strength is respectfully and reverently painted against the newly liberated Gay Community in the Castro. But as his flame burns brighter, so too does his homophobic opposition that would eventually lead to his assassination. Winning Penn his second Oscar, this incredible story of courage in the face of tremendous adversity is the gay To Kill A Mockingbird, and its origins from real life make it all the more tragic.
2009 - A Single Man
In fashion-designer Ford's directorial debut, Firth is captivating in his Oscar nominated role as the bereaved George, who is unable to cope with the loss of his boyfriend a year earlier. Set in 1960s Los Angeles, the film covers just a single day; the day on which George intends to kill himself. Setting his affairs in order, George heads out into the world to experience life for the very last time. Despite its potentially bleak subject matter, A Single Man is a life-affirming story about the latter stages of grief, all stylishly captured in slick and chic detail by a director with an eye for its aesthetic. Subsequently, this is a visually stunning and emotionally gut-wrenching film, which features Firth's finest performance to date.
2010 - The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right is an adoption movie with a twist. After two teenagers go on a quest to track down their biological father, their two mothers struggle with the introduction of this male figure to their lives. Embarking on a journey of sexual and personal discovery that they felt they had already been on, this post-modern take on the family drama shows a non-traditional family coming to terms with its own non-conformity. With Oscar nominations aplenty, including acting nods for Bening and Ruffalo, this heart-warming story creates a very human portrait of a thoroughly twenty-first century family.
2011 - Weekend
Set over the course of a single weekend, Weekend follows Russell, who meets Glen on a night out. Expecting that their tryst is just a one-night stand, both men are surprised when they find themselves connecting in the morning, but with Glen set to leave for America for good the very next day, how can they allow themselves to fall in love so fast? And while Glen battles against his feelings, refusing to allow himself to fall in love, he can't help himself. But the pair are so different and their lives and ideologies are so incompatible; so is there a way they can find around all these obstacles before Glen has to leave for America? A beautifully subtle and sensitive movie, Weekend is the first time I have seen myself up on the screen. Beyond the rich characters of all other films on this list, Weekend depicts ordinary British men falling in love, set against insurmountable odds. The stark realism of its cinematography makes it all the more believable, while its sparse use of soundtrack is perfectly judged.
2012 - Laurence Anyways
In the third feature from Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, this French-language film follows Laurence over ten years as he begins to live as a woman, focusing on his relationship with his girlfriend Fred throughout the process. Notable for its very fluid depiction of gender, its two leads are remarkable, refusing to accept binaries either toward their sexuality or, for Laurence, gender identity. Funny and intense, this is a three hour emotional epic that will make you rage as much as Fred that people feel such entitlement to pass judgement on others.
2013 - Free Fall
Very few LGBT films manage to get the balance right between drama and sexual tension. Too often straying into graphic eroticism, Queer cinema has grown a reputation for showing far too much. But Free Fall finds the balance perfectly. Following Marc, a married policeman whose wife is heavily pregnant, this smouldering tale of lust begins as Marc meets Kay, to whom he is inexplicably attracted. Even before he knows of either his or Kay's sexuality, the tension between the pair is palpable, but as they embark on a dangerously intense affair, Marc cannot reconcile his newfound sexual liberation with his impending duty as a new father. A heart-breaking story of ill-timed sexual awakening, Free Fall is one of the very best of the modern gay indies.
2014 - Pride
Words cannot describe the pure unbridled joy of watching Pride for the very first time. Based on the unlikely union between an LGBT group and a miners' union in Wales, this fizzing feel-good ensemble film intricately weaves countless strands of meaningful story together, exploring sexuality, prejudice, social inequality, family rejection and so much more, creating a perfectly balanced tapestry of comedy and drama that leaves you smiling from ear to ear. A history lesson as well as entertainment, it turns the spotlight on a truly remarkable story that reminds you that your greatest support can come from the most unlikely places. A tale of complete altruistic support, I defy you to find a film that can restore your faith in humanity more than Pride.
2015 - Carol
Carol is the lesbian Brokeback Mountain. Set in 1950s New York, the film tells the story of a forbidden romance between two women. Blanchett is astonishing as Carol, a woman going through a messy divorce and is forced to choose between being herself and being a mother. Mara's understated performance opposite is just as accomplished and it is hardly surprising that both earned Oscar nominations for these roles. The film is restrained, resisting the urge to descend into melodrama at times when it could easily have done, subsequently showing the power of the unspoken pressure that is ladeled on both characters to conform. Though Carol is unusually frank and outspoken for the period, it is heartbreaking that even she is unable to overcome the oppressive status quo. Expect tears on a first viewing of this love story that will endure as one of the greatest ever told on screen.
2016 - Moonlight
Moonlight was undoubtedly a landmark moment for LGBT cinema. Winning Best Picture at the Oscars, not only does it follow a gay protagonist, but also a black one. Even LGBT films have the tendency to depict the stories of rich white people, so this story about a strong black man as he grows up gay in a hostile neighbourhood is refreshingly different both as LGBT film and Oscar-winner. Over three episodes of his growing up, we see the parameters that shape Chiron, a man whose sexuality is kept behind closed doors but not repressed. We see him as a child, dealing with a crack-addicted mother, as a bullied teenager and as a young adult who is a member of a gang and a pillar of muscle. A delicately nuanced film about the expectations of masculinity, it is beautifully acted and lusciously shot in a way that similar films about urban culture rarely are.
2017 - Call Me By Your Name
In this Oscar nominated film, Timothee Chalamet stars as Elio, a seventeen year-old boy who falls desperately in love with his father’s student who has come to stay at their Italian villa for the summer. Armie Hammer is infuriatingly charismatic and abrasive in equal measure, and as the pair slowly fall for each other, their burning desire is as beautiful as the sun-drenched countryside that surrounds them. A depiction of intellectual compatibility and blazing first love, Luca Guadagnino’s film received numerous accolades, while a late scene with Elio’s father, played by a brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg, gives a brilliant monologue about living life to the fullest. I defy anyone not to fall in love with this couple.
2018 - Love, Simon
In the first ever mainstream teen comedy, we follow Simon as he tries to identify the boy at his school who he has been speaking to online. As he comes out to his family and friends, suffers at the hands of a blackmailer and deals with the trauma of teenage gossip, we yearn for him to meet his Prince Charming and live happily ever after. A glossy Hollywood idealised version of teenagehood, this is a joyful feel-good John Hughes-esque comedy that fizzes with humour, diversity and teenage romance. This is exactly the kind of film that young LGBT people should be growing up watching.
2019 - The Favourite
It is late in the reign of Queen Anne. She has lost seventeen children and remains without an heir. Her favourite, Lady Sarah of Marlborough, is essentially in control of the country, acting on her behalf in affairs of state as the Queen languishes in a permanent state of grief and misery. Meanwhile, Abigail is ex-aristocracy whose family has fallen from grace. When she arrives at court to ask for a job from her cousin Lady Sarah, she witnesses a sexual encounter between the Queen and her favourite and begins to hatch for her own social ascendency. Beginning to flatter and flirt with the Queen, she attempts to usurp and replace her cousin, all the while allying herself with powerful political allies and finding a titled young man to marry and cement her status. A superb battle of wits with an outstandingly dry script, this is British humour at its absolute best bolstered by a trio of magnificent performances.
2020- Make Up
Ruth has left home to live with her boyfriend at the caravan park where he works in Cornwall. The couple are vying to to stay over-winter as the deserted park’s caretakers, but she soon begins to suspect him of having an affair with a friendly and charismatic coworker. Her suspicions turn to obsession as her quest for the truth turns into a voyage of self-discovery as she is reluctantly drawn to the person she wants to hate. This story of distrust becomes much more about the awakening of her own feelings, manifest through a multitude of horror-sequence trickery; jump scares, body mutilation woven alongside elongated sequences of painfully rising tension. Director Oakley is a name to watch, because this is clearly the debut of a true auteur. You simply have to watch this film.